Garden centres should be ready to open next week
The week commencing Monday the 18th seems the most likely time for garden centres to re-open their doors to customers. The Prime Minister is due to speak tomorrow (Thursday) and again on Sunday (10th) with news of the way forward.
However, some in touch with negotiations say garden centres could re-open next week, so should be prepared.
It could be later. Nicola Sturgeon, who often steals a lead on the Prime Minister, indicates she is set to extend the lockdown during her briefing tomorrow - but changes may be made before the next review date on May 28.
She is quoted, "I very much hope that we, as quickly as possible, will be able to start, even if it is in fairly minor, gradual ways initially, to start to ease the lockdown."
Learning from the multiples
Here’s a couple of tips from the DIY multiples while planning store reopening.
B&Q has extended its returns policy so customers now have 135 days from the date of purchase to bring back their unwanted goods so as to reduce unnecessary journeys.
Homebase, shoppers are currently unable to return items to stores. The retailer says it is extending its returns policy but has yet to reveal further details.
B&Q now has trolley sanitiser stations to help keep equipment clean. Customers are being encouraged to use these before they shop.
Delivery delays… Juggling WFH, home schooling, child-care, basic husband training…
Many online retailers including Primrose, Gardening Express, Ashridge Trees, Homebase and B&Q are having to warn customers of delays in processing orders.
Ashridge Trees explains, “We have seen a significant increase in customer numbers recently, which combined with Government guidelines for keeping staff safe, has led to delivery delays… We are doing everything we can within the limits of workplace separation.
“We also need to apologise if it is hard to get hold of us at times. It may not seem that way, but we’re answering your emails and messages as quickly as we can. Juggling WFH, home schooling, child-care, basic husband training and all the other constraints of coronavirus is a challenge for us all!”
Barclays back two leading independent garden centres
Government loans are coming through for garden centres.
Wiltshire garden centre group Whitehall Garden Centres, which celebrates its half-century this year is continuing to trade through the coronavirus crisis after securing funding from Barclays under the government’s business support scheme.
BENTS Garden and Home in Warrington has secured £2 million from Barclays via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). The food store and online trading remain open for business, all other on-site retail trading has been closed … to comply with Government guidance.
Payment to suppliers
GIMA tells us that suppliers have started to receive invoice payments, with some customers paying in full, but not as many as they would like. A few garden centres, some big, are being selective, paying the suppliers they want to reorder from and asking for unrealistic extended terms.
Several suppliers have called their staff back from Furlough as they get ready for garden centres to resume trading.
Strong sales to Online retailers
Fallen Fruits is one of the suppliers who was strengthening its service to online retailers before the lockdown, providing an order taking and home delivery service. Jackie Eades says that sales in April were 95% of last year’s level.
She says garden centres with a strong online offer, and she gives Dobbies with their Ocado link as an example, have been re-ordering strongly.
Garden centres, which have not invested in their internet presence and delivery network, are losing out online sales, say suppliers.
A possible solution is Grownation.co.uk. It is offering all UK garden centres their own click & collect ecommerce website. The service is commission based with no up-front cost and no fixed term commitment.
Retailers are free to add whichever products they like, either manually and from their EPOS system or from files already available from suppliers including Farplants, Happy Plants, Bransford Webbs, New Leaf, Lovania, Taylors Bulbs, Fallen Fruits, BioGreen and SBM Life Science.
While spoga+gafa has decided the show goes on in September, BHETA, which owns the Exclusively Show, is to launch the week-long online Exclusively Digital on 6th July as a replacement for 2020’s live show.
There has been no decision yet from Glee.